This is probably the question writers get asked most frequently (I can remember when it was, “Do you use a pencil or a typewriter?”). Some of us have stock, if snarky, answers, like “I try to lead an interesting life” or “At Ideas ‘R’ Us.” When I talk to kids, I sometimes say how ideas tap me on the shoulder, and I whirl around to pump their hands and cry “How do you do?” Some of those ideas become stories, but most are just passing acquaintances.
But today I’m asking literally–where do you get them? In the shower is common, and so is while out running or taking a walk. This summer, here’s where most of my fireworks have been going off:
I don’t know what it is about the backstroke, but lately I’ve been bumping my head on the pool wall a lot, because I’m thinking about my work. As hard as I try to remember to bring my notebook, I sometimes have to jump out and grab whatever paper is at hand. Ideas are unruly things that come and go, and to make sure you catch them, I can testify that a (dry) kick board or a bike seat makes a lovely desk.
Driving is dangerously generative–thank goodness for stop signs and long red lights. I used to get ideas while I stood in grocery store lines, but now I’m too mesmerized by the cooking shows on the overhead TVs. Airports, of course, restaurants (especially after a glass of wine), while listening to other writers read or talk…
How about you? Where do you get your ideas?